Onward and upward for Hilton Garden Inn Gastonia


Things are truly looking up for local hospitality businesses.

With the recent opening of the Hilton Garden Inn Gastonia, Gaston County’s hospitality industry grows to a total of 19 hotels, with a combined 1,471 guestrooms. Although adding a property for the first time in nearly a decade is exciting news, the real benefit is that we broadened our destination appeal by incorporating a larger meetings venue into our profile that allows us to serve a previously untapped group meetings market.

Michele Neyer, the director of sales for the new hotel, recently talked about this.

“We couldn’t be more excited to become part of the community and to be able to bring larger meetings and events to Gaston County, as it’s such a hidden gem,” said Neyer. “The area boasts several attractions that are a must-see for any traveler.”

Hilton Garden Inn Gastonia provides more than 7,000 total square feet of meeting space, plus 119 guestrooms––all in one location. Its largest space, a ballroom of 5,248 square feet, has a banquet capacity of 435 people. Meetingplanners prefer such a combination of hotel rooms and conference space together. The Hilton Garden Inn gives Gaston County a much-needed entry into the meetings market in that we have not yet had such a convenient package of lodging and meeting space before.

Other hotel amenities include a morning buffet breakfast at the Garden Grille, a full-service restaurant and bar that are open all day for lunch and dinner and evening room service for dining in the comfort of your hotel room.

With this new asset, we widen our opportunities. In particular, the amount of space and the number of guest rooms in the Hilton Garden Inn will open up possibilities for our area to host state and regional association meetings that we have not been able to consistently secure in the past.

State associations: a new target market

Among these expanded target audiences is the Association Executives of North Carolina (or AENC), which has 328 association members representing 127 organizations. Their members are responsible for planning industry conventions, trade shows, educational conferences and other meetings that range anywhere in size from 10 to more than 1,000 attendees. Because convenience between lodging and meeting space is of such paramount importance to these planners, we have now boosted our destination attractiveness and greatly improved our likelihood of drawing a wider number of events.

Despite some limitations, our previous venues have allowed us to successfully accommodate our fair share of corporate meetings and social gatherings. The Courtyard by Marriott of Charlotte-Gastonia, opened in 2001, has 130 guestrooms and 2,712 total square feet of event space. Its largest space, the 2,298-square-foot ballroom, has a banquet capacity of 150 people or roughly one-third of the size of what has just been added with the new hotel.

The Gastonia Conference Center, which opened in 2011, has 11,130 total square feet of event space. The ballroom of 5,100 square feet is the center’s largest space. It offers a banquet capacity of 350 people. The challenge we face at the conference center continues to be that the nearest guest rooms are either 2.1 miles away at the Holiday Inn Express Charlotte West-Gastonia or 2.5 miles away to properties on Remount Road: the Courtyard by Marriott of Charlotte-Gastonia, the Fairfield Inn by Marriott of Charlotte-Gastonia, the Comfort Suites of Gastonia, the Hampton Inn of Charlotte-Gastonia and the Best Western of Gastonia.

Surveys of meeting-planners regarding criteria in choosing meetings sites tend to include some form of meeting and hotel infrastructure theme as a necessary factor. The right mix of meeting space square footage, plus enough conveniently located hotel rooms nearby, can be a real deal-maker.

However, the lack of meeting space proximity to guest rooms, distance from hotels to the conference space and availability of walkway connections or “walkability” can be a deal-breaker. Simple and safe in-market transportation, as well as how the hotel room/meeting venue conference package is situated in relation to plentiful dining, entertainment and attractions options, are also vital considerations. These location accessibility and layout factors all tend to heavily influence destination appeal, definite bookings, attendance levels, guest satisfaction and overall participant experience. Continually growing and improving upon our meeting infrastructure means more event opportunities in the future and hospitality industry growth.

As always, we embrace our role in representing the collective interests of our stakeholders, and we value their investments in our destinations. We will advocate for the development of venues within our county that have a positive impact upon our tourism industry and solidify our brand position. This is in keeping with our mission to maximize local tourism assets to grow visitation and partner value.

Did you know?

Did you know that the Hilton Hotels and Resorts chain is celebrating its centennial birthday this year?

Yep, famed businessman, hotelier and billionaire Conrad Hilton created the famous hotel chain in Texas in 1919. And just six years later in downtown Dallas, Hilton opened the first high-rise hotel to bear his name. Today, according to U.S. News & World Report, the Hilton chain is comprised of some 570 hotels in more than 85 countries and territories, spanning across six continents.

The Hilton brand is aimed at both the business and leisure traveler. The company has locations in major city centers, near airports, convention centers and popular vacation destinations all around the entire globe. The Hilton chain’s properties are either owned by, managed by or franchised to independent operators by the company.

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